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The Maroons now have head coach vacancies in both their boys and girls basketball programs.
Thursday, April 25, 2013
When Joey Russell succeeded Al Copenhaver as George Wythe’s boys basketball coach in 2008, the former Maroons assistant remarked that he had “hard shoes to fill.”
Those shoes need filling again.
Russell said he has resigned as Wythe’s coach, ending a tenure that saw the 44-year-old Chilhowie native win five Hogoheegee District regular-season championships and post a 93-35 record.
Russell’s departure means George Wythe has a vacancy in its boys and girls basketball head coaching positions. Bradley Sutphin said he resigned earlier in April after four years in charge of the Maroons’ girls program.
Russell, who was an assistant under Copenhaver when Wythe won the 2007-08 VHSL Group A Division 2 championship, had a 48-2 record in Hogoheegee games. The Maroons were unable to advance past the Region C tournament under Russell, falling in the semifinals four times.
George Wythe was 14-12 overall last winter, losing to Graham in a first-round regional game.
The Maroons also were eliminated in the region twice by Radford and once each by James River and Fort Chiswell. Radford won two Division 2 state titles and James River claimed one during that span.
“I was pleased with where the program went,” said Russell, who led Wythe to a 23-1 record in 2009-10. “The boys played hard. I had some really good kids that I was able to coach. I enjoyed every minute of it.”
George Wythe has one of Timesland’s most successful boys basketball programs in the past three decades.
Next season the Maroons will be in Group 1A under the VHSL’s new six-classification format.
The Wythe boys’ opening should draw widespread attention.
“I would think the two programs in this part of the state that would be the most attractive are, one, Radford; and two, George Wythe,” Wythe County superintendent of schools Lee Brannon said Thursday. “There is an opportunity for future success.”
Brannon said the administration already has received feelers from “two very high-profile coaches close to us who have been very successful where they are.”
Sutphin posted a 32-61 overall record as Wythe’s girls coach, reaching the Region C Division 2 tournament once. The Maroons posted an 18-22 record in the Hogoheegee.
Wythe was 7-15 overall last winter and 4-6 in the Hogoheegee.
“I felt like we did some good things,” Sutphin said. “I felt like we could have done a lot better. I guess I could have done better, some things. It just wasn’t as good as I hoped it was going to be.”
Both Russell and Sutphin plan to retain their full-time teaching positions. Brannon, who hopes to fill both jobs by the end of May, said prospective teaching vacancies might be few, but that it would not limit the coaching searches, particularly for the boys’ job.
“Absolutely not,” he said. “The boys are the high-profile program. I don’t want to scare anyone off.
“For the girls job, they’re going to have to ask some questions about what’s been going on. But the JV program won the district title, and the girls have been playing on an AAU travel team that has done well.”
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